[EDITORIALS]Solutions for cargo carriersIndependent truckers have returned to work, putting an end to two weeks of disruption of the industrial transport system. Movement of cargo is returning to normal, and it is fortunate that the country does not have to face widespread labor strife before the Chuseok holiday. The leadership of the truckers’ union showed courage in calling off the strike so that their action does no further damage to the economy. There was also a valuable lesson to be taken from the strike: No interest group will be allowed to get away with what it wants simply by resorting to an unreasonable show of force.
Now it is time for the truckers, transport companies and the government to pull their resources together to address the conditions that led to the disruption in the first place. The truckers’ job action was clearly illegal, but there are still convincing aspects to their complaints. The government must, therefore, do all it can to encourage full-faith negotiations between truckers and transport companies over freight rates. And the transport companies must refrain from the temptation to neglect negotiations now that the strike is over. Truckers must also show good faith in trying to have their demands heard.
What is of fundamental importance for a conclusive resolution of the problem is to overhaul an outmoded industrial transportation system. The backward nature of the system contributed most to the situation. The government’s plan to punish cargo brokers who eat into truckers’ incomes is an appropriate one, and so is the proposal to register individual truckers so that the ills of subcontracting are eliminated.
What also needs to be addressed is that there are too many truckers given the volume of cargo. Economies of scale must be achieved.
A comprehensive overhaul of industrial transportation is needed not only to prevent the repeat of a truckers’ strike but also to help propel the Korean economy to the hub of the Northeast Asian region. The truckers’ strike exposed the utter obsolescence of the country’s industrial transportation. Now is the best chance to modernize it.